Little Shop of Horrors at MV (April 27-30)

Note: This is a press release and not the work of our writers/editors.


Junior Eva Manrodt and senior Jack Nitti play Audrey and Seymour, the quirky couple of Skid Row in Little Shop of Horrors presented by Mounds View High School April 27 – 30.

Amanda DePhillips

ARDEN HILLS, MINN. – One of the longest-running off-broadway shows, Little Shop of Horrors, is coming to Mounds View High School at the end of April. This sci-fi tale about a man-eating plant has captured the hearts and imaginations of theater-goers for decades. Based on a 1960s cult B-movie, the campy dark comedy skirts the edges of satire, horror, and science fiction with a terrific rock score by Alan Menken and a clever, tightly-written book by Howard Ashman. 

Making his inaugural musical directorial debut at Mounds View High School is Matthew van Bruggen. van Bruggen has worked with several theater arts organizations including the Minnesota Fringe Festival, The Glimmerglass Festival (Cooperstown, NY) and Hennepin Theatre Trust. Before accepting the role as director for Mounds View, he was the assistant director at Irondale High School. 

Along with musical director Sarah Waller, van Bruggen has assembled an incredible cast and crew for this sci-fi cult classic. Little Shop of Horrors is set in Mushnik’s Flower Shop on Skid Row, where the audience finds Seymour, played by senior Jack Nitti, and his coworker Audrey, played by junior Eva Manrodt. After a total eclipse of the sun surprises Seymour with an unusual plant, lives are changed forever when this foul-mouthed soulful-singing plant turns out to be a carnivore who desires complete world domination. 

Audiences may remember the musical duo of Nitti and Manrodt from last spring’s high school production of Shrek – The Musical, where Nitti played Donkey and Manrodt played Donkey’s love interest, Dragon. The two seasoned performers are excited to take the stage opposite one another again this spring. 

“Jack and I became friends in middle school during Mary Poppins Jr. and we have been able to share our love of performing together ever since then,” recalled Manrodt. “He’s one of my best friends and that really helps us to play off of each other and elevate our characters’ chemistry!” Nitti agrees, “Eva and I have been very close friends ever since middle school, and getting to share the two lead roles is absolutely amazing.”

van Bruggen is excited to see Audrey and Seymour come to life on stage this spring. “The adorableness [of the show] is driven by Audrey, the squeaky blonde with a heart of gold and self image so low she never stands up to her sadistic, nitrous oxide addicted dentist boyfriend who humiliates her and beats her so bad she’s got a black eye and her arm in a sling. In wonderful parallelism, the equally adorable, meek and earnest nerd-orphan Seymour, Audrey’s co-worker, cultivates a murderous, man-eating plant from outer space that brings great fortune and then terrible despair to the fledgling flower shop where they work before threatening to take over the world.” 

Sophomore Matthew Hahn commands his corner of Skid Row as shopkeeper Mr. Mushnik, who’s shop takes center stage in this cosmic adventure. Newcomer Luke Baker-Trinity, a freshman, will make his Mounds View High School stage debut in the role of dentist Orin Scrivello, D.D.S, played by Steve Martin in the 1986 film adaptation. “Though he is an awful boyfriend to Audrey and a terrible dentist to his patients,” cautioned Manrodt, “he has fun songs and his character is so over the top. If you can get past the dentist’s character traits,” she advised, “Luke does a fantastic job of playing him!” 

The story is narrated by a doo-wop Greek chorus of street urchins, inspired by the girl groups of the ‘60s and played by sophomores Jayda McAdams, Cali Sidler and Natavia Griffin. “The Urchins help frame and keep the action moving,” explained van Bruggen. “They speak truth to power, bring the anti-capitalist themes to the forefront, and also bring a little levity to Skid Row as some really dark and twisted events unfold—but in the most adorable ways.” 

As for the clever, man-eating plant known for its cruel master plan? “Audrey II is definitely my favorite character in the show,” proclaimed Nitti. “I think that he is extremely funny and [so is] the actor playing him.” 

But van Bruggen knew the personification of Audrey II would come with a few minor challenges. “Audrey II is central to this story and a massive technical challenge. Many theater companies spend months creating their puppet. We don’t have that kind of time or resources so we contacted a local production company that frequently works

with high schools and they have a rental set of plants for our use. The plant is a marvel, requiring a puppeteer to live inside for operation, all in sync with offstage vocals.” The Mounds View High School theater department is more than 130 members strong and produces three shows per year: a fall play, a winter Shakespearean play and a spring musical. Only 20 members make up the ensemble cast for the spring musical, but scores more are working behind the scenes, literally, to present this urban musical landscape. Crew members have been crafting stage plots, sets and props since mid February, under the leadership of senior captains Cora Manrodt and Sierra Peacock. Sound & Lighting senior captains Charlie Smith and Christian Nelson and their tech team have been busy programming close to 120 lighting and effect cues for the show. Costuming captain Isaac Siechen, a senior, enlisted his creative team to outfit the cast in ‘60s-style fashions for this show. 

“The talent and creativity that comes out of these high schoolers continues to impress me each and every day!” observed van Bruggen, “I handed our set-crew several projects with a rough idea of the vision I was going for and they merged that with their own creative freedom. Our costume department spent time pouring over the script to ensure they matched the essence of what life on Skid Row is like for our characters. As a “techie” in high school, I am thrilled to see so many students interested in the offstage aspects of creating a production.” 

What is a musical without live orchestration? Under the direction of Mounds View High School band director Bill Sucha, the pit orchestra is composed of a dozen students from the school’s music departments and they soulfully provide the live soundtrack written by the Academy-Award winning duo, Howard Ashman and Alan Menken (Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Beauty And The Beast, and Aladdin). “I continue to be in awe of the musical talent in this district,” said van Bruggen, “and the students who make up this pit orchestra are no different. Live music brings a unique energy to the auditorium and all of us are excited to share this complete package of musical theater with the community.”

The students are energized by the power of live music, too. “My favorite moment is definitely the song ‘The Meek Shall Inherit,’” said Nitti. “The song is super fun to perform and to sing! Huge shoutout to “Mushnik and Son!” 

“The finale is definitely my favorite,” Manrodt said decidedly. “It’s such a true musical theater number – it’s funny and energetic and the perfect way to wrap up this campy comedic thriller.” 

While the musical is a comedy based in science fiction, it is rated PG-13. “This musical contains mature themes like domestic violence, drug use, and a man-eating plant. While sometimes humorous in the storyline, none of these actions are presented as desirable choices; in fact, they are primarily the behaviors of the villain,” noted van Bruggen. “While man-eating plants like Audrey II aren’t real: dating violence is a serious problem for both teens and adults. Therefore, our cast members attended a teen-appropriate workshop on Healthy Relationships presented by the SELF program.” If you are experiencing relationship violence, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE or visit 

Why is Little Shop of Horrors the most often-produced show of all musicals? Van Bruggen has his theories. “The show has lasting appeal because it’s delightful, surprising, and weird.” The students are ready to present this cult-classic and Nitti invites the community to get their tickets today. “The audience should see this show because it’s full of great music, fun dances, and everyone involved has put hours upon hours of work into this show. Little Shop of Horrors is a wonderful show and I promise you’ll love it!” 

Little Shop of Horrors is showing at the Mounds View High School Auditorium on April 27 through April 30, 2023. The Thursday, Friday and Saturday performances begin at 7 pm. The Sunday performance begins at 1 pm. The Lobby opens 45 minutes prior to show time; Doors open 30 minutes prior to show time. The run time is 2 hours and 15 minutes. Tickets are available online and at the door.